ASIA Sumas presents Bye Bye Birdie

The school stages the popular musical on Feb. 25 and 26 in Abbotsford

Students from Abbotsford School of the Integrated Arts rehearse for their upcoming production of Bye Bye Birdie.

Students from Abbotsford School of the Integrated Arts rehearse for their upcoming production of Bye Bye Birdie.

Students of Abbotsford School of Integrated Arts’ (ASIA) Sumas Mountain present their production of the musical Bye Bye Birdie next week.

Artistic director Penny Miller said the show is family-appropriate, as it is a smaller 90-minute version of the full-length Broadway production, with some of the more suggestive dialogue removed.

The production features more than 40 students who have been rehearsing since last October. Another 10 or so add behind-the-scenes and backstage support on everything from building the sets and props to handling sound and lighting.

This is the school’s sixth musical production, and it is the first time that a live orchestra will be used instead of taped music.

The orchestra, under the direction of Paul Luongo, consists of nine musicians from the school and community.

Miller said one of the most difficult tasks of this year’s production has been preparing to take the production, which has been rehearsed in the school gym, and translating it to the stage of the Abbotsford Arts Centre (AAC), complete with an orchestra pit.

The students cannot rehearse at the AAC until a couple of days before the show opens, and Miller jokes that she’s worried about them falling into the pit.

Bye Bye Birdie is a satire on American society set in 1958 and was inspired by Elvis Presley and his draft notice into the army in 1957.

The musical features the character Conrad Birdie, whose final national publicity stunt before leaving for the army is to bid a typical teenage girl goodbye with a kiss on the Ed Sullivan show. The honour is won by Kim MacAfee.

Conrad’s arrival in Kim’s hometown causes the quiet little town to go into a tailspin.

The stage show became a hit 1963 movie and is credited with making Ann-Margret, who played Kim, a superstar, leading to her appearing with the real Elvis in Viva Las Vegas in 1964.

The ASIA production stars Halle Galloway as Kim, Noah Wade as Conrad Birdie, Will Fung as Conrad’s agent Albert Peterson, and Maayan Misner as Albert’s secretary Rosie.

Musical director is Heather Beckett, and costuming is by Jacqui Streber and her mom Marilyn Troyer.

Miller said the production includes recognizable musical numbers such as Telephone Hour and Put on a Happy Face.

“We have a very strong cast of lead singers and support singers,” she said.

The production takes place Thursday, Feb. 25 at noon and 7 p.m. and Friday, Feb. 26 at noon at the Abbotsford Arts Centre, 2329 Crescent Way.

Tickets are $7 for the matinees and $15 for the evening show. They are available at the school (36232 Lower Sumas Mtn. Rd.) by phone at 604-850-5207 or at the box office one hour before showtime.